Cross-Channel refugees win major victory in Court of Appeal: It is not a crime to steer a refugee boat across the Channel

Quash ALL the convictions – Free the refugees from prison!

Crown Prosecution Service must drop all pending prosecutions of cross-Channel refugees and refuse any further prosecutionsSIGN & SHARE THE PETITION!

Refugees who have risked their lives crossing the Channel to seek asylum have been slandered, persecuted and politically exploited by Johnson’s racist government. Now they have won an important victory. Yesterday the Court of Appeal ruled that it is not a crime for refugees to steer small boats across the Channel, to do their best to keep themselves and fellow refugees safe so they can exercise their legal right to claim asylum in Britain.  

The decision came following a special hearing last week, in which the Court of Appeal brought together four claims made separately by cross-Channel refugees. There were at least seven other refugees who were determined to fight for justice and waiting for  the outcome of  this hearing. They all have been or still are imprisoned  for that supposed ‘crime.’ The quashed all four convictions, making it almost certain the other seven will be quashed in January. 

Movement for Justice (MFJ) welcomes this decision. It is a defence of human rights and the UN Refugee Convention, made in defiance of a government that is tearing up asylum rights and  human rights, and under the threat of a new Nationality & Borders Bill – the purpose of which is to change the law so that it will, automatically, be a crime for any refugee to cross the Channel or seek to enter the UK without a legal document. 

Politically, yesterday’s decision is a challenge to the whole direction in which this Far Right, authoritarian government is moving – and not only on asylum and immigration policy.

Since 2019 the Home Office has used photographic evidence from drones to get the police to arrest refugees who steered boats across the Channel, and then treated them as ‘people traffickers.’ That accusation was obviously false and the Home Office knew it was false. Nevertheless, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) agreed to prosecute the refugees who the Home Office identified.

The legal principles of today’s decision were actually established by a Court of Appeal hearing in April this year – in the case of Fouad Kakaei, an Iranian asylum seeker. Over the next few months prosecutions were dropped in another eleven cases, and in July the CPS announced publicly that it would not be bringing any further prosecutions against cross-Channel refugees. 

However, the Home Office has continued to target refugees who steered boats. The CPS soon fell into line and brought more prosecutions. There are still many hearings scheduled: the next one is on January 4th and the list includes the case of MFJ member Nabil Abdulmajid in May.

The plain truth is that the government and the Home Office have consciously ignored the legal decisions and acted as though the new Borders Bill was already on the statute books. The CPS has agreed to be their accomplice. Canterbury Crown Court, where every one of these cases has been heard, is a racist production line churning out guilty verdicts for the Home Office. 

This is the state of affairs under a regime that despises democracy and humanity; it has no respect for us or even for the law. It sees all such concerns as obstacles to its political and economic objectives. In that context yesterday’s decision in the Court of Appeal can be described as a defence of democracy and human rights. It has fired a kind of warning shot at the development of dictatorship and fascism. It further undermines the tattered legitimacy of this government and its policies. 

The full significance of this decision will become a reality if we understand the authority it will give a refugee, immigrant and youth led movement to resist the Home Office and make the Borders Bill unworkable.

We have the advantage that Britain’s ruling elite is increasingly divided – important sections of the judiciary against the Home Office, different sections of capitalist businesses against the government or against each other, and the government increasingly divided against itself. Our movement must learn how to build collective action to take advantage of these divisions in order to increase the power and unity of the poor, exploited and oppressed. 

The Home Office, the Court of Appeal and the CPS are at loggerheads on many fronts. On the Borders Bill and the Home Office’s general anti-immigrant measures they are in conflict over the central public plank in the government’s political agenda. We must demand that the CPS grows a backbone and refuses to bow any longer to the government’s demands that it ignores the decisions of the courts. Specifically, we demand that the CPS immediately drops all prosecutions of refugees who have steered boats across the Channel and refuses to bring any new prosecutions. 

MFJ demonstrating outside the Court of Appeal on day two of the hearing.

British Government Guilty of Racist Mass Murder – OPEN THE BORDERS NOW! The Borders Bill must be stopped or made unworkable by mass resistance.

MFJ Statement on deaths of refugees in the Channel on Wednesday 24 November 20221

The refugees who died in the Channel on 24/11/21, whose true number may never been known, were victims of a politically motivated crime against humanity committed by the British government. Movement for Justice declares that Boris Johnson’s government is guilty of racist mass murder. 

The policies and actions of this government made yesterday’s tragedy inevitable, sooner or later. Its actions have made the deaths of many smaller groups of cross-Channel refugees inevitable over the last three years. The government actually instigated a policy of pushbacks at sea whereby big Border Force boats are to physically block small refugee boats and force them out of UK waters, action so life-threateningly dangerous that even their own officials are afraid to carry it out. 

Of course, they were ready with their prepared responses to Wednesday’s deaths. With solemn faces, they put the blame on ‘people smugglers’ and France. Most of the media has followed that line. 

What hypocrisy! People smugglers are only in business thanks to the racist policies of Britain and other European governments. They are the offspring of Fortress Britain and Fortress Europe. As for France – the refugees were trying to seek asylum in Britain; that was their right, and they died because the UK government used every means possible to deny them that right.

Defeat the Borders Bill – Defeat the Far Right Government

These deaths came as the Government is pushing a new Nationality & Borders Bill through Parliament. This Bill takes the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee Hostile Environment policies of previous governments to new depths of barbarism. It will tear up established rights and safeguards, including the United Nations Refugee Convention. Without doubt it will lead to the deaths of many more refugees and immigrants, in Britain and trying to get here. 

Johnson heads a far right government that sees this Borders Bill as the most important public, political element in a raft of repressive anti-democratic laws. It isn’t just another immigration bill, it is a move towards a more dictatorial form of government – and in reality towards fascism.

That makes the response of most liberal and charity groups to the deaths in the Channel thoroughly alarming. They are calling on this government to establish ‘safe legal routes’ for asylum seekers. The founder of the well-known refugee rights charity, Care for Calais, is even saying that the Home Office should set up a ‘screening centre’ in Calais to decide which potential asylum seekers could go on to pursue their claim in Britain.

Defend asylum rights, no to ‘safe legal routes’

Movement for Justice strongly opposes such proposals. ‘Safe legal routes’ is code for no-route at all. It effectively means ‘off-shoring’ the asylum process – a betrayal. The power to decide who can arrive would be used invisibly and entirely at the will of the political elite. There would be no opportunity for a challenge. Refugees only have a realistic chance of asserting their rights if they are in Britain, with a wider public that believes in the right of sanctuary. 

The government is truly afraid of the presence of determined, bold refugees in Britain, because these are people who took the initiative to get free rather than waste away in despair, as happens to generations of refugees who are stuck in the limbo of United Nations refugee camps. They have the most to contribute and teach the anti-racist communities and the poor and oppressed in Britain. 

That is why the government is so eager to off-shore the asylum process to concentration camps, where officials have dictatorial control to privately pick and choose who they deem ‘worthy’ of asylum, leaving the rest to languish for years in unseen squalor (and perhaps desperately hoping to get a place in one of the UN camp lotteries).

There would be no difference if this policy was operated by a Labour government. Any Labour leadership that implemented ‘safe legal routes’ would be a leadership committed to maintaining the same racist anti-immigrant system. Labour governments have in fact shared responsibility for this system since the 1960s. 

Labour’s current shadow Home Secretary has been attacking the government, not for its racism and cruelty, but for failing to stop large numbers of refugees crossing the Channel. He proposed to work with other governments to prevent refugees getting anywhere near the Channel. Many black, Asian and anti-racist Labour Party members are unhappy with the leadership. They must openly challenge those racist policies, not only in words and conference motions, but by joining the active resistance to make the Borders Bill unworkable.

Open the Borders of Britain and  Europe

Movement for Justice asserts that the only fair and progressive alternative to the persecution of cross-Channel refugees, and the government’s attempts to consolidate a Far Right racist base, is to Open the Borders

Opening the Borders is what hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are actually doing around the world because they have no alternative. It’s what refugees are doing in the Channel, the Mediterranean, the deserts of north Africa and on the southern borders of the USA. It will continue and grow because mass migration is a global rebellion against an increasingly unequal and unjust world. It is a rebellion against tyranny, poverty, racism, imperialist wars and global heating.

Open the Borders is not an abstract  demand on the British government; it is a Call to Action for a movement of immigrants, refugees, black, Asian & Muslim communities, and youth. It means building that movement on both sides of the Channel and across Europe, to counter and resist the activities of the Home Office, stop deportations, create real safe routes and build & defend real asylum communities. We must pull down the walls of Fortress Britian and Fortress Europe.

Building that movement is how we can best honour those who have sought freedom and justice and died in the Channel and around the world

Picture credits: Peter Marshall (mylondondiary.co.uk)

Build Workers resistance and non co-operation with the racist Nationality & Borders Bill NOW! UNISON must allow workers to vote!

The trade unions must be prepared to lead, organise and mobilise resistance to this bill, to support their members who will be asked to participate in facilitating concentration camps, mass deportations and racist discrimination. RESIST the Nationality & Borders Bill!

The following is an appeal drafted by MFJ chair Antonia Bright, in her capacity as UNISON Black Members Officer at SOAS. Appealing against a decision to rule out of order the SOAS motion to UNISON London Regional Council to organise resistance to the most draconian and racist immigration legislation in British history, the Nationality and Borders Bill. This appeal and the motion lays down a strategy that is essential to building the resistance to this racist legislation. The trade unions must be prepared to lead, organise and mobilise resistance to this bill, to support their members who will be asked to participate in facilitating concentration camps, mass deportations and racist discrimination. Please spread the motion, pass it in your branch, in your union. If you are a member of UNISON pass it in your branch.


Appeal for SOAS Unison’s motion Black Members Against racially divisive “Nationality and Borders Bill” to be heard at Regional Council.

To the Regional Secretary.

SOAS Branch object to the ruling to deny Regional Council the opportunity to discuss and vote on our motion ‘Black Members Against racially divisive “Nationality and Borders Bill”.’ The motion urgently tackles the dangerously racially divisive piece of proposed legislation while it is at committee stage, not yet law. We appeal the ruling. We were informed that the motion would not be included on the agenda on the grounds that:

“the union cannot support activity that is beyond the law, as referred to in the fourth action point”.

The fourth action point in question calls for London Region to 

“Work with Labour Link to support those local authorities / councils that make public pledge that they will resist collaboration with the Home Office on its targeting of immigrants”.

We make the following three requests:

  1. We request that the motion be accepted on to the agenda for the Regional Council meeting now timed for the 2nd November.
  2. We request a copy of the legal advice on which this claim is asserted, and a list of which laws it is claimed would be breached by supporting locally elected councils that pledge to resist the targeting of our immigrant communities. What is the specific ‘activity that is beyond the law’, given that the immediate Bill referred to has not become law, and many local councils have made similar such pledges?
  3. We request a meeting with whomever made the decision where we can make our challenge. 

There is nothing in the motion to justify taking the extreme unilateral position of ruling it ‘out of order’. 

Firstly, the assertion that support of local authority’s resistance to Home Office activity is equal to support of ‘activity beyond the law’ is a speculation that the decision-maker has chosen to imply – it is not what the motion actually states. Loose speculation of this kind is dangerous to our unions’ democracy; it could be applied to any motion that ever seeks to resist any of the abhorrent things the government of the day may try to impose despite there being many ways to resist and challenge such things. 

In Higher Education we had resistance to “Prevent”, for example. The legally binding obligations placed on educational institutions by Prevent, did not stretch to forcing those institutions to force staff to carry out harassment of particularly Muslim students, though that was the implication. Unison HE Conference debated supporting members who refused to comply with the demands from state powers through Prevent legislation.[1] There is always scope for resisting discriminatory practices and asserting protections, which we should be using when the objective of an activity pushed by the government is the blanket discrimination or harassment of particular oppressed groups.

But unlike with Prevent, this motion is talking about a Bill that has not even passed. It is NOT law – it can’t be ‘broken’ since it’s not even clear what it is capable of legally imposing. It can however be fought, withdrawn, amended, and delayed. The ruling against discussing this motion inherently presumes that councils will have no lawful means to resist the racist and sexist outcomes of what they might be asked to do in the furtherance of the hostile environment policies. 

In fact, the Bill is already demonstrably likely to face legal challenges for years to come.[2] That challenge could conceivably come from local authorities, or dare we say, trade unions. We are not discussing settled law, it is precarious unclear immigration law which is an area where Home Office activities have been found unlawful in lots of areas including the workplace.[3]

Action point 4 anticipates that councils will be faced with choices and will be asked to do things that they have the power to refuse. It would mean Unison working through its Labour links to further the very resistance that is already underway against the anti-immigrant Hostile Environment policies. Councils including Hackney,[4] Lewisham,[5] and around 100 others have refused to assist the Home Office.[6] That is a sign of the strength of the international, integrated communities they represent and serve. 

While so many local council’s have already been resisting collaboration with the demands of the Home Office’s racist hostile policy, why are we now being told this is unsupportable? What a weak message to send a parliament as they weigh up this deplorable racist attack on refugees and Black communities, alongside major attacks on the right to protest, Judicial Review and legal aid. No wonder we have MP’s openly envisaging their path towards getting rid of the Human Right Act too. 

This is the time we need to state where we stand – as the RNLI did by stating what should be obvious: that their obligation is to rescue without discrimination; and that is not compatible with any law that tries to order them to let human beings drown in the sea. The local authorities have public sector duties too and are accountable to communities; they are in a position to challenge and to resist demands on them to breach human rights. 

If locally accountable councillors actually use what powers they have (the few powers central government have not yet destroyed), to resist measures that the Home Office may attempt to impose that would racially target and discriminate against immigrants, turn public services into a trap for the harassment of Black people and of non-citizens, lead to racial division and cause real damage to their community worse than what the hostile environment already has, clearly they should be supported and celebrated.

Regional Council is our voice. It is for us as members to raise debate, in this case to call for Unison to be clear where its support lies before our members, (which includes several serving as local councillors), are faced with the dilemma of how to uphold their obligations and ethics to help and serve our communities without discrimination, in the face of a political pressure to harass and stigmatise immigrants including refugees. 

The meaning and necessity of ‘Resistance’.

Our motion express the strength we want to convey. Discriminatory laws get repealed or changed when oppressed communities build resistance, with no guarantee of achieving justice. Universally, resistance is a means of struggle essential to fighting oppression. 

The Nationality and Borders Bill, if it passes, would not be the first time a British parliament has attempted to codify into law a set of deeply racist or bigoted ideas that opened a section of our society to legally sanctioned harassment and abuse. Look at the whole series of immigration and nationality laws that have systematically written the Black out of ‘Britishness’. Look at Section 28 that made an offence out of encouraging openness towards gay sexuality and empowered school leaders to drive out gay teachers. Had Unison been asked to declare “we support teachers and students who resist collaboration with the authorities implementing Section 28”, a motion to that effect would have shut down as ‘out of order’. What a way to prolong the misery suffered living under unjust laws. 

Without resistance to unjust laws there would be no fighting racism, segregation or apartheid, there would be no defeating anti-gay laws, or the legalised oppression of women. We fight unjust and oppressive laws, or we give way to even greater oppression. Fighting unjust laws begins with resistance, the means of which is decided by the context and what power exists.

Our motion opens a legitimate debate that must be had, about the nature of the Nationality and Borders Bill, its relation to past experiences of resistance to racism and unjust legislation, and the actions of local councils and communities currently resisting the racist hostile environment for immigrants. This is a trade union issue, recognised by the TUC statement quoted in the motion.

To block this motion by claiming that a trade union should not support resistance to a proposed law which seeks to introduce concentration camps for asylum seekers among other reprehensible measures, is offensive to the very historic struggles that the organisations of the oppressed have led and which we ‘celebrate’ in words if not in deeds. 


[1] Unison HE Conference 2012, Motion 16: “WE WON’T SPY ON OUR STUDENTS”

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/12/priti-patel-borders-bill-breaches-law-human-rights

[3] https://dpglaw.co.uk/high-court-declares-home-office-policy-unlawful/

[4] Hackney Gazette: “Hackney Council pledges to ‘Support not Deport’ rough sleepers”; https://news.hackney.gov.uk/hackney-council-pledges-to-support-not-deport-rough-sleepers/

[5] “London Council Rejects ‘Cruel’ New Immigration Rules”; https://www.localgov.co.uk/London-council-rejects-cruel-new-immigration-rules/51550

[6] The Independent: “More than 100 councils and charities vow to boycott Home Office policy to deport rough sleepers”; https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/councils-charities-rough-sleeping-deportation-home-office-b1898240.html

From Minneapolis to London, mass action led by black, Asian & immigrant youth defeats the racists & fascists.

Each weekend and most days since the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, we’ve had huge marches through central London and around the country. We risked coronavirus because we knew history wouldn’t wait. At times when the state goes too far and exposes its racism it creates a turning point. It is imperative that leaders emerge in action on the side of the oppressed to win. It means overcoming mis-leadership and fears of our own power in action. MFJ is an organisation building leaders in action, speaking the truth about racism. We know that to overthrow oppression, the oppressed must strike the blow.

On Saturday 6th June from Parliament Square we marched for miles – to the US embassy, to Home Office Headquarters, Parliament Square and Whitehall. It was an outpouring of anger by young people taking to the streets, to reckon with time-worn British racism. The speed of the escalation is testament to the line being drawn against all the ways we are being killed and sacrificed to the profit, political opportunism or convenience of a few – deaths at police hands; deaths in detention centres; being left to die from Covid-19; left in Grenfell Tower; left to drown in the Mediterranean sea; deported to countries we don’t know; losing everything to a bloodsucking immigration policy; Windrush generations humiliated; young people and immigrants scapegoated for the failures of a system that for ten years has bailed out banks not communities.

A reckoning has been a long time coming.

A struggle for power

A dynamic youth-lead anti-racist movement asserting its power in the streets is the most serious threat to the government’s racist policies and practices; racist Brexit, the hostile environment for immigrants, health, education and work inequalities and racist policing. It is also the strongest hope of the exploited and oppressed as we face a world in crisis desperate for revolutionary change.

That power – on the streets – has incensed racists and fascists across the country and led assorted far right groupings to call a counter demo against the BLM protest on 13th June, under the pretence of “protect the statues”. Their ‘defending statues’ was really about defending their racism against the awakening of a movement that could come to challenge the politics of nationalism and racism that gave them Brexit, and which most divides and weakens the working class as a whole. Their answer is to put black people back in ‘their place’.

Wherever the fascists march or demonstrate, their goals are simple: brutal racist intimidation; physical attacks on black people, Asian people, LGBT people and anti-fascists; recruiting more racists to their ranks. They want us weakened, afraid to act, and really afraid to fight back. Fascism has to be defeated; it cannot be negotiated. The past four years since the Brexit vote has seen racism and racist attacks increase, some of the largest fascist mobilisations including in London and Manchester since the 1970 ‘Keep Britain White’ marches. With the election of the most far right government since Thatcher, under Boris Johnson, and his rallying cry to racists everywhere of ‘Get Brexit Done,’ fascists have been emboldened. The timidity of Labour who turned a blind eye to Brexit racism allowed a weak Tory government to stay standing. It is no accident that bigoted racist and anti-Muslim attacks increased; Brexit gave licence to racists to act.

Overcoming the misleaders

The march BLM LDN called for Saturday 13th June would have outnumbered the fascists and easily driven away any right-wing racists trying to disrupt it. Turning back the fascists with their tails between their legs from the start would have cemented the power of the anti-racist movement. Instead BLM LDN announced they would ‘give’ the fascists Saturday, by moving to Friday instead. They lined up alongside everyone from the police, media, Akala and Boris Johnson, telling black people to clear out of the fascist’s way. That betrayal was a comfort to the far right, who may well have increased their attendance as a result. It is always a mistake to give ground to fascists to organise and grow; it leads to racist attacks on the day and in the aftermath. It treats black people as though we are weak, when it is precisely our strength that has brought about this critical point in history.

A distraction rally was held in Hyde Park, called by Stand up to Racism, which should have marched straight to Trafalgar Square, but the leaders of that rally also told people to go home after a few speeches. Thankfully hundreds ignored that advice and came to Trafalgar Square. London Black Revs and Malcom X Movement had called on protestors to go to Trafalgar Square from the start, and not back down to fascists.

The decision of the 200 or so, to stand ground in Trafalgar Square against all racist provocation and abuse, getting the word out as far and wide so others would come and join us, turned a near defeat into a major victory. The day ended with mass action lead by overwhelming black, working class young people, driving the fascists out streets by street, and taught them a hard lesson. It was a truly historic defeat for fascism.

An MFJ account of Saturday 13th June – Trafalgar Square to Waterloo

“It was known the racists and fascists came in largely through Victoria on coaches and trains to head to Parliament Square. They always start drinking early. Altercations with police began quickly, they attacked journalists and gradually fought through police lines to get to Trafalgar Square. These were the groups looking to attack any BLM / anti-fascists and do damage. They had glass bottles and fireworks as weapons.

“In Trafalgar Square the anti-racist demonstrators were overwhelmingly black, young and working-class, a lot of women. Everyone knew why we were there: we had to defend the growing movement by holding the ground to stop the fascists taking advantage of the day, and not clearing ourselves out of the way.

“We were only around 200, if that. There were police nominally separating the sides. The fascists (all men, some EDL, some violent groups connected through football) were gathered around the south west of the square shouting racists and misogynistic taunts, ‘go back to Africa,’ being provoking, and some in berets like ex-army gathered on Nelson’s Column. They carried on until they felt confident enough in their numbers to attack physically. At that point they moved like a flock around from the south end of the square, then up the east side to the higher ground along the top. They used the higher ground to lob glass bottles and fireworks into the crowd of black people, while making monkey noises and chanting. At the same time there were other racists milling around allied with the racist mobilisation.

Some police moved in, but a lot of the time the police stood back. The police caught up some fascists around Charing Cross, and later with police dogs stopped another breakaway group of fascists near Haymarket. There were fascists on side streets around Trafalgar Square.

Despite the mis-leaders who stayed away, everyone who stayed showed boldness greater than any of those fascists and racists. Our cause meant more – we are making history.

After an hour or so another big group of anti-racist protestors (some marched from Hyde Park, probably picking up others on the way) got to Trafalgar Square. Then our numbers were closer to a thousand, as it should have been. There were still confident fascists and racists verbally abusing black people around the square like it were a sport. They quickly found Trafalgar Square was no longer a space where you could be openly racist.  Emboldened and our numbers growing the racists and fascists got shut down.

We got moving down the side streets around the square. Fascists spotted in Leicester Square were chased out. Back in Trafalgar Square some of the earlier fascists who had been so confident and bold before were caught up with. Everyone who had aligned with the racist abuse found themselves questioned and confronted.

We marched down The Strand to Waterloo Bridge, widening the field where the fascists could no longer operate. Over the bridge at Waterloo station a group of fascists in the train station had presumably left behind a couple of their fascist friends. By now the numbers of anti-racists was still growing, still overwhelmingly black and working class. Some of the crowd managed to chase the fascists into the station.

Our side’s goal was clear, we wanted to defend our city, our people from the fascist threat and we wanted to ensure that any fascist or potential fascist thinks twice before returning to attack us. We ended up as thousands, and we took the streets back from them, from Waterloo to Trafalgar Square to Whitehall, to Vauxhall – we chased those fascists out, any who thought to challenge us, any who sought to spew their racism or attack us got taught a lesson in the power of working class black, white and Asian people fighting in unison to defend our communities”

A historic victory against fascism

It is impossible to overstate the enormous victory over fascism which took place on Saturday 13th June, for the first time ever a mass black led, working class mobilisation in central London managed to beat back the fascists, force them out of our city in tears. There have been victories like this in our local communities such as Tower Hamlets when the EDL were defeated by masses of Asian youth and anti-fascists determined to defend their community, but in central London the fascists have been able to hold increasingly large demonstrations freely – they see central London as their space. The victory was confirmed when the Democratic Football Lads Alliance put out a statement afterwards saying they would be withdrawing from future mobilisations to ‘defend statues’.

Fear of this expression of the power of a black-led struggle, and the great significance of our victory, has meant that much of the left, and the leaders who use the ‘BLM’ name, are refusing to tell the truth about what happened. Most people who were not there will just have seen the footage from earlier in the day when the fascists had the upper hand and the photo of a fascist being carried to safety. Neither of these things tells the true story of what happened, the scale of the physical, emotional, political defeat for fascism – something that only happened because thousands defied the call to ‘stay at home’.

Movement for Justice by any means necessary exists to mobilise that power, to make the power of exploited and oppressed communities a social force that will defeat the racism of the state, abolish its brutal system of oppression, and smash the fascists. That movement will give new hope to youth, to the poor and working class, and to everyone suffering discrimination and prejudice.

MFJ is a movement of leaders, most of us immigrants and asylum seekers who have fought to be in Britain and fought to stay here. We fight to abolish the anti-immigrant system that is central to racism in Britain: – to end the racist scapegoating of immigrants and the government’s ‘Hostile Environment’ policy; to shut down all detention centres and stop deportations and immigration raids; to win the right of ALL descendants & family members of the Windrush Generation to stay in the UK; and to extend the Settled Status for EU citizens in Britain to EVERYONE, from any country, who is living here without secure immigration status.

MFJ does not rely on politicians, judges or any institutions of the state. To secure our rights and futures we must build an independent, integrated mass movement, led by youth, immigrants and the black & Asian communities, and fight by any means necessary for civil rights,  immigrant rights, and equality for all.

Why MFJ will be joining the ‘No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit’ bloc on 9 December

The following statement was put out on the fifteenth Surround YarlsWood demonstration on 1 December 2018 (pictured above):

Defend & Extend Free Movement of People – Stop Brexit!

  • Shut down Yarl’s Wood – Shut down all detention centres
  • Stop scapegoating of immigrants – End the racist Hostile Environment
  • Amnesty Now for ALL those who don’t have secure immigration status
  • Open the Borders of Britain & Europe!   

Sunday 9 December, ‘No to Tommy Robinson, No to Fortress Britain’ Demonstration, 11am, Portland place

Stop the rise of Fascism & the Far-Right – Join MFJ on the ‘No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit’ Bloc

Build independent, integrated, youth & immigrant led mass movement against racism, fascism & poverty

Bring Down this Racist, anti-Working Class Brexit Government!

Across Europe and in the USA, immigrant workers, immigrant communities and refugees are on the frontline fighting for justice and equality, against racism, fascism and poverty. They are far more than scapegoats who get blamed for low pay, failing public services, insecure jobs etc; they are feared by the rulers as the most determined and conscious fighters.

In Britain the resistance by immigrants and asylum seekers inside detention centres is the driving force that has won a whole series of victories; detainees & ex-detainees in Movement for Justice (MFJ) are playing the leading role in this struggle. That’s why Yarl’s Wood, which has once more been a site of struggle against mass deportation in the past week, now stands half empty.

In the USA, the real leaders of resistance to Trump and his fascist allies are immigrants, Latina/o & black communities and youth, and the refugee caravan at the border with Mexico. MFJ’s American sister organisation, BAMN, has been in the frontline of these struggles for immigrant rights and shutting down the fascists. In Italy, the independent SI Cobas union, 80% immigrant workers, is the most militant section of the workers’ movement and the focus of militant political opposition, especially by youth, to the new racist Far Right government. They are demonstrating today against the reopening of a detention centre in Milan.

These powerful struggles are the basis from which we can build – internationally – an integrated mass movement to defeat the biggest growth of fascism & far-right racism since the 1930s.

We must defend and extend the free movement of people and stop Brexit

The rich and powerful regard free movement as their exclusive privilege – free movement for themselves, their money & investments, and the goods & service they buy and sell in a globalised economy with super- fast communications. They deny the same rights and benefits to the poor and oppressed, the people they exploit, impoverish and dispossess. That is divide and rule on an international scale: a global labour market for bosses looking for cheap labour, but not for people looking for work and safety. Mass migration is a rebellion against that injustice.

In an increasingly unequal world the free movement of people is the most basic human right – fundamental to workers’ rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, the right of asylum and to life itself. The ruling classes deny us those rights, with their borders, detention centres, immigration laws, and by condemning thousands to death and starvation.

Movement for Justice demands Open the Borders of Britain & Europe, because it is what hundreds of thousands of people are doing, by any means necessary, in order to solve crushing material problems in their lives. The alternative to Open Borders is a world of barbarism and tyranny.

And the forces of barbarism and tyranny are growing here, across Europe, in America, and elsewhere   in the world: the Trump movement, the new government in Italy, the Orban government in Hungary, and their model, Putin’s de facto dictatorship in Russia. Brexit is its British form. Brexit is the biggest victory for racism and biggest attack on immigrants in Britain in the lifetime of anyone living today.

The far right racists are facing our resistance everywhere and they can be defeated. That will take a movement that’s independent of the powers-that-be – a movement with consciousness, a strategy and leadership.

Exposing the lies about Brexit

The Government and the Labour leadership say we must accept Brexit because it is democratic. That’s a lie: it’s not ‘democratic’ for a majority to take away the rights of a minority. The referendum was an exercise in lies and demagogy, not democracy. Millions of people who are part of this society were denied a vote by racist nationality and immigration laws.

Some people on the Left, including leading people in the Labour Party, say we should accept Brexit because a big part of the Leave vote expressed the anger of white people in impoverished communities who had every right to feel betrayed. That is true, but does not make it any less racist. One section of the working class was venting its anger in an attack on another section, based on race and national origin.

The same people say we should put Brexit behind us and unite on the ‘real’ practical issues that affect our lives, like housing, jobs and the NHS. They can’t or won’t see that free movement and fighting racism are real practical issues for millions of people. They can’t or won’t see that racism and immigration have a profound impact on housing, jobs and the NHS.

The fundamental belief of all such people is that you can’t shift the racism of poor and working class white people – and that is the biggest lie of all. But the basis for that belief is that racism is simply too big an issue, that it is too ingrained in the economic and political system, that overcoming it would shake things up too much. And that is true! It is too big a fight for their politics and their methods.

Racism can’t be overcome by reliance on the present system – Parliament, the courts, elections – any more than it will be overcome by moral sermons. It can only be overcome in and through the independent power of a mass movement, and it’s only on that basis that intervening in Parliament, the courts, elections etc will yield any positive results. We must not be afraid of the power of the poor and oppressed.

Building the movement – Defending free movement of people – Stopping Brexit

MFJ fights to stop Brexit in order to maintain the free movement of people and defeat anti-immigrant racism. That is central, all other considerations are secondary. Staying in the European Union while ending free movement would be a defeat; keeping free movement while being outside the EU would be a victory. The institutional and legal arrangements through which free movement is maintained are merely a matter of the mechanism that achieves our goal.

The method through which a movement can achieve these goals is the method that MFJ applies to every fight, big or small, that we are involved in: independent collective action to shift the balance of power in favour of the oppressed and exploited, and always speaking the plain truth about racism, as we have done about Brexit ever since the referendum campaign. It’s what we are doing at Yarl’s Wood today, organising inside and outside, together, to shift the balance of power against the Home Office and Serco. It takes resistance and exposure to make detention unsustainable; neither happen without organisation.

It is the same method we employed last year to drive a fascist recruiting march out of Croydon – campaigning and organising in the community, especially the black & Asian community, and among the youth, to take over the streets.

This is the method that can maintain and extend the free movement of people and stop Brexit and reverse the growth of fascism. Our aim must be to bring down this racist, anti-working class, brutal – but weak & divided – government. On 11th December Parliament votes on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which will almost certainly be defeated; the Brexit crisis enters a new and more dangerous phase, and the fascists are preparing to take advantage of it to build their movement. The notorious racist thug and former EDL leader known as ‘Tommy Robinson’ has summoned his supporters to a ‘Great Brexit Betrayal’ march in London on Sunday 9th December.

Some members of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement and the left-wing anti-Brexit group ‘Another Europe Is Possible’ (AEIP) are with us at Yarl’s Wood today. MFJ welcomes the positive decision of AEIP to organise a No to Tommy Robinson! No to Brexit! bloc as part of the mobilisation against the fascists on 9th December. It is endorsed among others by David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, Manuel Cortez, leader of the TSSA union, Caroline Lucas MP of the Green Party and Peter Tatchell. They are rightly demanding ‘vote down the Brexit deal’ and ‘defend free movement,’ and point out that,

“… It is not enough to simply oppose racism in the abstract. Brexit is being used to attack migrants, end free movement, deregulate the economy, divide communities and legitimise racism in the political mainstream. It is driven at its core by the British wing of a movement that includes Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, among others…. Brexit has from its earliest days been driven by the far right, and the far right will benefit from it for decades to come unless we defeat it and the conditions on which it feeds.”

MFJ will be part of this bloc and we call on everyone here today to join us there. We will do everything we can to build the bloc.

Immigrants, black & Asian communities and youth must take the lead

This leaflet started, in its first four paragraphs, by explaining that these are the forces on the frontline of the fight for equality and justice internationally, and that are leading the fight against detention and the Hostile Environment policy in Britain.

With regard to Brexit, by far the biggest percentage of votes against this racist project came from black, Asian and Muslim voters, and from young voters – the most integrated generation, with their futures at stake. These are overwhelmingly working class communities and groups, and include some of the poorest sections of the working class. And they are a core part of Labour’s ‘traditional supporters.’ They knew from the start that Brexit is racist, and they have directly experienced its toxic impact. Recent polls indicate a further increase in opposition to Brexit among these groups.

The decision of the Labour leadership to endorse Brexit, to deny that it is racist, and to abandon free movement is a shameful insult to these communities and to the young generation. But, the most prominent anti-Brexit organisations have also been, at best, reluctant to fight on the issues of racism and free movement because they don’t want to undermine the Labour Party. As a result they isolated and undermined the very forces that most strongly rejected Brexit – while the Labour leadership continues to undermine itself anyway with its Brexit policy.

The ‘No Brexit’ bloc on the 9th December can be the start of changing that situation. Our organisers must focus on London’s multiracial schools & colleges, and the predominantly black, Asian and working class universities. We must call on David Lammy and other anti-Brexit MPs, especially black and Asian MPs and councillors, to call on their communities – on Tottenham, Lewisham, Hackney for example – to come out with us. We must call on Manuel Cortez and other anti-Brexit union activists to bring out the immigrant workers who are the most exploited and some of the most militant workers in London.

Time is short before 9th December, but we have a long fight after that because this is profound and long- running crisis in our history. We must step up our action now.

MFJ is building a movement of immigrant, black, Asian and young leaders because that is central to defeating the Far Right and overcoming the huge roadblock of racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim discrimination and prejudice that is the chief barrier to progress in British society and internationally. That is the most important task before us, Only such a leadership can awaken and inspire a new movement of united mass struggle against exploitation and poverty.

We call on EVERYONE here today to join this fight.
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